19 September, 2023
Cost of living relief on the way for families and seniors
FAMILIES and seniors from the Somerset Region received an increase to their income support payments and pensions when indexation took effect yesterday (September 20).
This increase is in addition to the boost to income support announced in the May Budget as part of the $14.6 billion cost of living package, coming in on the same day, as well as access to cheaper prescription medicines that commenced on September 1.
Changes effective September 20
Single JobSeeker Payment recipients received a base payment of $749.20 per fortnight, reflecting a $56.10 increase. This is the largest permanent dollar increase ever to the main adult unemployment benefit in Australia. Adult ABSTUDY recipients also received this boost.
Parenting Payment Single recipients received a base payment rate of $942.40, reflecting a $20.30 increase. For single parents transferring to this payment as a result of the Government’s change in the Budget to extend eligibility until their youngest child turns 14 (up from age eight), they received an extra $227.50 per fortnight compared to their current rate, including supplements.
Those on a partnered rate of JobSeeker and Parenting Payment received a base payment rate of $686, reflecting a $54.80 increase.
As a result of indexation, recipients of the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension and Carer Payment also received an increase to their payments. The single pension rate increased by $32.70 to $1,096.70, and the rate for couples combined increased by $49.40 to $1,653.40. These figures include Pension Supplement and Energy Supplement.
Single veterans on a service pension received an additional $32.70, bringing their service pension to $1,096.70 a fortnight, while veterans on the Disability Compensation Payment (Special Rate), known as the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Payment received an additional $53.00 a fortnight, increasing their payment to $1,729.20.
Income support recipients who are renting also received an increase to the maximum rates of Commonwealth Rent Assistance, as a result of both the Government’s 15 per cent increase in the Budget and regular indexation. For single recipients without children, the maximum rate increased by $27.60 to $184.80 per fortnight. For family payment recipients who have one or two children, the maximum rate increased by $32.34 to $217.28 per fortnight.
Income limits for Commonwealth Seniors Health Card recipients was also indexed, increasing by $5,400 to $95,400 per annum for singles and by $8,640 to $152,640 per annum for couples combined.
Other supplementary payments including Telephone Allowance and Utilities Allowance are also being indexed.
Federal Member for Blair Shayne Neumann said the Federal Government recognised Australians are continuing to grapple with cost-of-living pressures.
“Indexation is a vital mechanism to safeguard the purchasing power of social security payments, ensuring they keep pace with the cost of living,” he said.
“Higher inflation is being felt most within households on low fixed incomes and these payments will help ease the financial burden for many locals who are doing it tough or may need some extra support.”
Mr Neumann said there was a large veteran community in his electorate and the Government was making sure they and their families were looked after following their service.
“Not only will the indexation of these payments help veteran families with the cost of living, some fortnightly education allowances will also increase, ensuring veteran families are better supported,” Mr Neumann said.
As a result of payment rates being indexed, income and asset limits will increase.
More details regarding September 2023 indexation is available on the Department of Social Services (DSS) website https://www.dss.gov.au/about-the-department/benefits-payments/previous-indexation-rates
More details regarding the cost of living package announced at the 2023-24 Budget is available on the DSS website https://www.dss.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/05_2023/payments-cra_budget_fact_sheet_fa_0.pdf
This includes for those payments also receiving the $40 increase: Youth Allowance, Austudy, ABSTUDY Living Allowance (aged under 22), Special Benefit (aged under 22) and Disability Support Pension (aged under 21 with no children). These payments are indexed in January each year.
Mr Neumann has Seniors and Pensioners information booklets available for constituents, which also have details on a range of government payments and benefits.
These cost of living relief measures follow changes to pharmacy dispensing rules that commenced on September 1, meaning patients can now access two months’ worth of prescription drugs in a single purchase, instead of one months’ worth.
The Federal Government’s cheaper medicines policy will benefit more than 28,500 patients in the electorate of Blair initially and will eventually apply to more than 300 drugs on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.